Pendeen Lighthouse

Pendeen Lighthouse

A mile from the village of Pendeen stands Pendeen Lighthouse, situated on a headland known as Pendeen Watch. The lighthouse guides shipping between Cape Cornwall to the west and Gurnards Head to the east.

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Pendeen lies on the dramatic north coast of Cornwall, halfway between Land’s End and St Ives. Like many other old Cornish coastal villages, Pendeen was believed to be a secret place for smuggling activities. It boasts three beaches, although some are more accessible than others. The largest of the three beaches was for many years the home of a wrecked ship, but this was later cleared since it presented a danger to swimmers.

Pendeen Lighthouse

Overlooking Pendeen, above the Church, is a hill that the locals nicknamed ‘Slidehill Cemetery’ because of the graves at the bottom.

Below the lighthouse is what remains of the wreck of The Liberty. Most of it has now been eroded by the sea, but some parts are still visible at low tide on what locals call ‘Liberty Rock’, a favourite fishing spot.

The cliff height obscured Trevose Head Lighthouse to the east and Longships Lighthouse to the west. As a result, many were unable to determine their position and came to grief on the exposed rocks near Pendeen. It was not until the late 1800s that Trinity House decided to erect a lighthouse and fog signal at Pendeen.

Fog signal

The lighthouse was built in 1900 by Arthur Carkeek of Redruth under the direction of Trinity House Engineer in Chief Sir Thomas Matthews. The tower was constructed of rubble stone with a cement facing and stands 56ft high and 195ft above sea level. Before work could begin, the cap of the Point had to be removed, and the whole headland flattened. A huge retaining wall was built on the seaward side.

The light was finally lit on 26th September 1900, using a five-wick Argand Lamp. This was replaced in 1926 when the light was electrified.

In the past, a strange quirk occurred, whereby the flash of both Trevose and Pendeen Lighthouse was visible from the other, but only at low tide. This was due to the curvature of the earth obscuring the lights as the tide rose. This phenomenon no longer occurs as the nominal range of the lights has been reduced.

Lighthouse at sunset

The lighthouse, also known as Pendeen Watch, was automated in 1995. The compressed air fog signal was replaced by an electric signal giving one blast every 20 seconds. This was discontinued on 29th April 2014.

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Established: 1900
Engineer: Thomas Matthews
Tower Height: 17 metres
Light Character: Fl (4) 15 s
Light Range: 16 miles
Elevation: 59 metres
Automated: 1995